Silkie guinea pigs, also known as Shelties, are a long-haired guinea pig breed that’s often used as a show animal. This breed is great as a pet due to their very calm nature. This breed came about in the 1970s and is a crossbreed between a Peruvian and Self Black guinea pigs.
Silkie guinea pigs are great for children but require a lot of maintenance making them more suitable for experience guinea pig owners.
Key Facts on the Silkie Guinea Pig
|Length:||8 to 10 inches|
|Weight:||2 to 3 lbs|
|Lifespan:||5 to 7 years|
|Color:||Solid, brown & white or agouti|
|Temperament:||Very calm and gentle|
|Best Suited For:||Experienced guinea pig owners|
Silkie Guinea Pig Colors & Fur
The Silkie guinea pig is loved as a show breed for their gorgeous fur and coat, just like Peruvian guinea pig. These guinea pigs have a long, smooth and silky coat meaning they will require more maintenance to stay healthy and groom.
There are several color variations of Silkie guinea pigs but most are a solid color, such as black, or combined colors mixed in such as brown and white. Some Silkie guinea pigs have agouti and Himalayan colors.
How to Care for Your Silkie Guinea Pig
The Silkie Guinea Pig is cared for much like other animals and other guinea pig breeds. A majority of the guinea pig breeds will follow the same daily care checklist that you should work through, however, being long-haired, there is a little more maintenance for these animals than others.
To maintain a healthy Silkie Guinea Pig you’ll want to:
- Give them fresh vegetables and fruits daily.
- Give them fresh water and keep the water flowing.
- Clean their cage daily and clear out any soiled bedding to avoid sickness.
- Make sure they have tons of hay throughout the day.
- Make sure they have fresh pellets rich in vitamins and others to keep them healthy.
- Make sure they are given the appropriate living space to exercise and play.
- Engage with your guinea pig and show them affection.
- Do health checks weekly to make sure they aren’t gaining or losing too much weight.
- Keep their nails trimmed.
- Brush and clean their fur thoroughly to ensure none of it gets matted.
Silkie Guinea Pig Health
The Silkie Guinea Pig suffers from all the common health problems guinea pig’s get, such as pneumonia, diarrhea and scurvy. However, with this guinea pig having much longer hair and fur than others it comes with a few extra things you should watch for.
You’ll want to keep an eye on their grooming more than others. If the fur gets matted down or you miss urine or feces stuck in their long fur it can start to attract flies. If the guinea pig has flies on them it’s likely you’ll find eggs and the maggots that are born out of the eggs will feed on the tissues of your guinea pig making them sick. This can kill a Silkie Guinea Pig within days.
Prevent Health Issues with Your Silkie Guinea Pig
The best way to prevent health issues with your guinea pig is to maintain a healthy environment, feed them the appropriate food and properly groom your guinea pig.
Follow these guidelines to as a basic care routine:
- Feed them plenty of clean and fresh hay.
- Keep the cage and living environment free of urine buildup or other waste.
- Make sure your guinea pig is getting adequate vitamin C.
- Minimize their contact with other animals as other animals can transfer disease and vermin.
- Keep them properly groomed with their teeth and nails.
- Provide plenty of space for the guinea pig to roam, lay and rest.
- Make sure you’re keeping your guinea pig in the correct temperature for their breed.
- Keep an eye on any abnormal behavior or weight gain or loss.
To learn more, read our guinea pig checklists for a wide range of things you should be doing for your guinea pig on a daily and weekly basis. To keep the lifespan of the guinea pig as long as possible you’ll want to get in the habit of proper care and maintenance.
What is the Lifespan of an Silkie Guinea Pig?
The lifespan of a Silkie Guinea Pig is 5 to 7 years, matching the average lifespan of a guinea pig. Most guinea pig breeds will live an average of 5 to 7 years. The better care you give your guinea pig the longer their life expectancy will be. Their lifespan is affected mainly by genetics, environment and their diet.
How Much Should Silkie Guinea Pigs Weigh?
There is no “healthy” weight for a guinea pig. Most guinea pigs should be within a range of 1.5 pounds to 3 pounds as a full grown adult. If your guinea pig is below 1.5 pounds or above 3 pounds it’s likely you are not caring for them correctly. If your guinea pig is looking too skinny or too heavy you’ll want to speak with your veterinarian as an active guinea pig will typically keep it’s weight in check and any excess weight gain or loss could be the start of health problems.
Do Silkie Guinea Pigs have Good Personalities?
The Silkie Guinea Pig is very calm and gentle making them great with kids and great for being a show breed. They respond very well to human touch and hand-feeding and make one of the best guinea pig breeds for kids.
The Silkie Guinea Pig makes the perfect pet for more experience guinea pig owners as they come with more care and grooming than other common guinea pig breeds.
These guinea pigs are great for families and kids as they do not bite.
Are Silkie Guinea Pigs Good with Kids?
Yes, the Silkie Guinea Pig is great with kids who have owned pets before as they have a calm nature. These guinea pigs love to be handled and enjoy affection. The Silkie guinea pig is one of the most calm and patient of guinea pig breeds making it great for families. These guinea pigs do come with more maintenance than other breeds but if your child is experienced with owning pets they should have no problems.
How to Train an Silkie Guinea Pigs
The Silkie Guinea Pig can be trained just like any other animal and other guinea pig breeds. They may not be able to fetch a stick but they can be trained to listen to commands. The guinea pig is a very intelligent animal and most breeds are very active and love to engage with humans. The Silkie Guinea Pig is smart enough to learn a few tricks and commands if you have a lot of patience.
You shouldn’t try to train them early and should wait until they are around 9 to 12 months old.
You should try to train your guinea pig to use the litter box and obey basic commands like stop, stand up, come here, etc. The key is to pair the training with a reward of some sort like a treat or petting from the owner. By properly training your guinea pig you can get them to use the litter box to pee and poop instead of their cage along with making sure they listen to you when they are out of the cage.
Things to Know Before Buying an Silkie Guinea Pig
If you’re considering adoption or buying an Silkie Guinea Pig you should really know the basics of care, diet and their habitat. Guinea Pigs are pretty robust animals but it’s very easy to make them feel depressed or cause health issues without proper care.
Food & Diet Requirements
The Silkie Guinea Pig requires the same basic diet all guinea pigs need. You want to make sure there is a good supply of high-quality timothy hay for them to eat. The hay will wear down their teeth and is high in fiber to help them with their digestive system. Because of their longer fur coat you’ll want to prioritize pellets, fruits and vegetables that are higher in Omega-3 fatty acids.
According to the Humane Society, your guinea pig should eat around 1 cup of vegetables per day. They should have leafy green vegetables like romaine lettuce, kale, cilantro and parsley. You should provide a variety of vegetables for your guinea pig and change it up each day.
Some of the best vegetables for guinea pigs are rich in vitamin C such as broccoli or bell peppers.
Your guinea pig can consume fruit but you will want to be careful as most fruit is high in sugar which can make the guinea pig sick. You will want to keep the portion of fruit small and avoid fruits high in sugar and prioritize fruits high in vitamins and antioxidants.
Some of the best fruits for guinea pigs are oranges, apples, blueberries and strawberries.
Your guinea pig will need quite a bit of room to roam and exercise. Some guinea pigs can remain active for up to 20 hours a day. You should try to get the largest guinea pig cage possible. Make sure your cage has as much open area as it can so they can run around. Guinea pigs don’t like to climb so a larger and single level open space with things to do is more appealing to them.
Care & Grooming
The Silkie Guinea Pig requires a lot more grooming and hair brushing than other guinea pigs. You should build a daily and weekly care and grooming checklist for your guinea pig. You’ll want to spot check all of their health signs, such as weight, and handle all grooming. Before you bring a guinea pig home you’ll want to make sure you understand how to trim their nails, how to brush their hair and proper cage maintenance.
Guinea pigs ultimately don’t require a lot in their home to stay active but you should look into the basic supplies needed for a guinea pig such as a water bottle, food dish, toys and gnaw sticks.
Common Questions About Silkie Guinea Pigs
How Much are Silkie Guinea Pigs?
As pets, guinea pigs are one of the cheapest domesticated animals you can buy or adopt. The price of a Silkie guinea pig is a little higher than other breeds due to them being more for show. Most people who adopt or buy this breed do so for the appearance.
A Silkie guinea pig is around $50 to $100. In some cases, such as adoption, you can get a guinea pig for less than this range or even free. The one thing to keep in mind is that it’s cheaper to purchase an Silkie Guinea Pig but the real cost comes with proper care and housing.
To properly care for a guinea pig you’re looking at around $100 to $500 per year per guinea pig on the lower end. This includes cages, toys, food, bedding and more.
Are Silkie Guinea Pigs Intelligent?
Guinea pigs are very intelligent creatures and want to learn and explore. They do not want to sit in their cage all day long and need interaction and exploration to remain happy. The Silkie Guinea Pig is no different than any other guinea pig except that they will require more engagement than others.
You should expect to entertain your guinea pig often by changing up their cage layout, letting them roam the house and spending quality human interaction time with your guinea pig. You can begin to teach your Silkie Guinea Pig several tricks and habits at a young age.